Elijah Merchant: Emmett didn't pressure

It was an Army-Navy battle for Elijah Merchant, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back from Atascocita High School in Humble, Texas. In the end, Merchant opted to follow the steps of his older brother, Emmett, a former Midshipman defensive back (2008-10), and signed his certificate of intent to the Naval Academy.

It was an Army-Navy battle for Elijah Merchant, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back from Atascocita High School in Humble, Texas. In the end, Merchant opted to follow the steps of his older brother, Emmett, a former Midshipman defensive back (2008-10), and signed his certificate of intent to the Naval Academy.

"Navy started to recruit me during the season," said Merchant. "Coach O'Rourke liked me. He said they thought I was a good football player and they offered me.

"I talked to [Emmett] about going to Navy, but he didn't pressure me about it. I made the decision on my own. It was really based on my official visit. It was Saturday on my visit when I was ready to tell Coach Niumatalolo yes. All of the guys on the the team made me feel welcome and at home. It was great going up into a private room inside the stadium. Snow was coming down. I'm from Texas so I thought that was neat to see. I loved it. I think they like me at either running back or safety. They like my speed at running back and my brother played defensive back and they think I can get it done there as well."

Merchant was a three-year starter for the Atascocita Eagles. He's excited to continue playing with his brother, Eric Watson, a quarterback, who also signed with the Midshipmen.

"We felt the same way about Navy," he said. "I've been playing with him since middle school and I'm happy will be able to continue to be teammates. This year wasn't quite what we expected (at Humble). We went 5-5, but it was a lot of fun. We beat some teams we weren't supposed to but got upset a few times. Individually, I only ran the ball about six times a game. It was a new system in place this year and I did a lot of blocking. On defensive I think I made 53 tackles."

Humble is in the Houston metropolitan area. Before reporting for NAPS in the summer, Merchant will compete in the 100 meter dash, high jump, 4 by 1 relay, and the 4 by 2 relay. Merchant chose Navy over offers from Army, San Jose State, and Tulsa. He wore number-3 for the Atascocita Eagles.

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